Chess is a game that teaches us sportsmanship, good decision making, patience, planning, and how to learn from mistakes. These traits are enhanced by positive encouragement and personalized instruction. If your child likes playing chess and participating in Chess Competitions, here are some tips put together by Chess4Life, a Chess Education Center in Greater Seattle Area focused on providing Chess Education for kids of all skill levels. These tips are geared towards helping your child achieve best results in the Competitions.
- CHESS SKILL PREPARATION
PRACTICE CHESS TACTICS AND PUZZLES
We recommend approximately 15 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
REVIEW PAST TOURNAMENT GAMES
Review the last 20-30 tournament games to refresh on where the student could improve or WOULD improve if playing the same game again.
Spend at least 30 minutes reviewing/practicing basic endgames/checkmates – preferably with 5 minutes on a chess clock against another person.
Avoid spending the week before a tournament cramming on chess strategy.
- PHYSICAL PREPARATION
Get a good night’s sleep before (and preferably be well rested that whole week).
Be well hydrated and drink plenty of water before the tournament and during the event (NOTE – be sure to use the restroom before each game!!).
EAT HEALTHY FOOD
Avoid sugar/candy/sweets during the event – eat some good carbs with some protein but do NOT overeat the day of the event. A good breakfast about 1-1.5 hours before the event is ideal, then eat lightly between rounds.
Do so both before the event, and between rounds – 5 minutes of fresh air (and if having trouble focusing during the game, take a short walk and do some ‘jumping jacks’ where it will not distract others).
- PSYCHOLOGICAL PREPARATION
Expect to do well & come intending to give your VERY BEST EFFORT no matter the results! Remember that the ‘worst case scenario’ is that if you have the right attitude, you can Learn much from the event! (Remember “Win, Draw, Learn!!”)
Arriving just on time or late can increase the tension/pressure and lead to unnecessary mistakes.
AVOID A DEFEATIST ATTITUDE
“I’m not ready.” “I’m afraid.” “I’m going to lose.” Generally what you think about and focus on is what your mind works to achieve – so if you are thinking that you are going to lose, subconsciously your mind is trying to help you achieve that result!! Instead, focus on Positive Self-talk such as “I’m going to take 2 minutes every move – I’m good at finding opportunities – I’m excited and ready to focus the whole game – I’m going to find some GREAT moves today!”
THINK ONLY ABOUT YOUR CURRENT POSITION.
Focus all thinking on your plan and finding the best move in the current position (And let the results take care of themselves!) Tip from my Dad when I was a young teenager competing – “If you find the best move each time, you end up winning. If you do this each game you don’t need to be concerned about ‘tiebreaks’ or what placing you will have – you’ll just be in first! So just focus on finding the best move Every move!”
AVOID LOOKING UP OR ASKING FOR YOUR OPPONENT’S RATING.
This really only serves to distract you as ratings are distracting.
IMAGINE YOURSELF IN THE COMPETITION.
At least 5 minutes before each game, mentally imagine yourself in the competition already, thinking about WHY your opponent has made his/her move and figuring out if there are any threats – imagine also what your plan might be – attacking the king, attacking a weak pawn, etc – imagine yourself mentally in the game already, taking your time, focusing on the position….and then go to the board keeping this mental energy going – doing this will help you be focused right from the very first move!
STAY FOCUSED BETWEEN ROUNDS.
Between games in the tournament, try to stay focused – (see notes above regarding physical prep).
Author: Mallory O’Neill
Mallory Works as a Customer Service and Administrative Manager at Chess4Life.
Chess4Life is a Chess Education Center located in Greater Seattle Area. They teach Chess for Kids of all skill levels. They have a proven, proprietary training system that has produced multiple national champion students and some of the highest ranked students in the United States.